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Notebook: All-star screw up, taking a break ... sort of

In the Bleachers with Billy


When baseball fans turn on the television July 16 for the MLB All-Star Game, there will be a few faces they won't see, but should.

It happens every year, and people like me get semi-worked up about it. Deserving players get left out of the Midsummer Classic all the time, and are forced to actually take a break during the four days of the all-star break. One of those players, that should be suited up for his league, used to suit up for Madras.

Boston Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the man who leads the majors in stolen bases, got the "thanks, but no thanks" from players and managers, after their votes were tallied to select the reserve players for the summer showcase at Citi Field.

I'm not here to say the system needs fixed, because I think this is the only way to do it if you want to have the fans involved in the selecting. Have the fans pick the starters, and Major League managers/players pick the rest of the team. It's marketing (something MLB sorely needs more of) and it gives fans a chance to feel like they have done something.

And, this year, the fans got most of the picks right (see Bautista, Jose). It's the managers and players that submitted votes that screwed up this year.

Ellsbury isn't having a year that warrants a starting spot in the all-star game. This isn't his sensational 2011 season, but it is still quite good.

In fact, that's an understatement. He's having a great year, a year that is deserving of a few innings in the all-star game.

He had a bit of a slow start to the season, but at this point, he has hit his stride and has the numbers to say he's one of the best outfielders in the American League. With his Major League leading steal total, he's tops amongst AL outfielders in triples with seven, second in hits (107), third in batting average (.301), fourth in on-base percentage (.364) and fifth in runs (55).

In order to put Ellsbury on the roster, someone would have to come off it. That's an easy pick for me - Kansas City's Alex Gordon.

Gordon's nine home runs and 47 RBIs are indeed better than Ellsbury's two dingers and 30 RBIs, but that alone shouldn't factor into an all-star vote. Ellsbury has a higher batting average, on-base percentage, more hits, doubles, triples, stolen bases and a higher wins above replacement rating on both offense and defense than that of Gordon.

Both players do very well in the field, and Ellsbury has three errors this season, but he also had more chances than Gordon, 208 to 160. Ellsbury also has a higher range factor, per game, 2.47, than that of Gordon's 1.98.

I guess I'm just nitpicking now, but baseball is such a numbers game, you have to look at them to decide who should be under the bright lights in mid-July. The players and managers should have taken a closer look at them, and put Ellsbury in the game.

Shifting gears back closer to home in the preps arena, there was a brief in last week's Pioneer about the Oregon School Activities Association's "Moratorium Week," July 28 - Aug. 3

Well, like the descriptor suggests, it was brief. Perhaps it was too brief, so I'm here to explain what the heck it actually is.

At its core, the moratorium week policy is set to force athletes and coaches to take time off during the summer. Football, volleyball and cross country preparation begins after the previous season ends, and with the way high school sports are headed, everyone will be looking to get an edge somehow.

That edge is hidden in the summer months - June, July and August - where a player can simply outwork an opponent if they want to. The OSAA, however, has to set the moratorium week up. It's the organization's attempt at leveling the playing field, essentially by keeping players and coaches away from any practice field or facility for the same week.

On the surface, it's a great idea. It allows players and their families to take vacation, and not miss those "optional, but really not optional" summer sweat sessions that induces vomiting better than eating bananas and drinking Sprite at the same time. Don't try that, just trust me here.

For the athletes not going on vacation, or really doing anything, that could be a pretty boring time. They might want to get out and do a little something, but it would have to be coordinated without any coaches, and can't be at any school facility. That's where leadership comes in, and players take it upon themselves to organize workouts.

No one is going to keep a high school athlete from training how he or she wants to, and while the moratorium policy is a good one, most athletes won't be taking a break.




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